Edwin Kipyego beat hot and humid conditions and a strong field to lead Kenya’s 1-2-3 in the elite men’s competition of the $210,000 Airtel Delhi half-marathon on Sunday.

Despite the challenging conditions, Kipyego clocked his personal best of 1:00:55 to claim his ninth half-marathon title and a cheque of $25,000. Leonard Langat (1:01:07) and Silas Kipruto (1:01:57) took the second and third spots respectively.

Ethiopian Yimer Wude, the third place finisher in 2010, returned a time of 1:11:10 to beat her compatriot Waganesh Amare by two seconds for the women’s crown. Kenyan Hellah Kiprop took the third place with 1:11:18.

Heat was a major issue in the seventh edition of the event which was held two months earlier than last time. Several runners suffered due to the rising temperature and humid conditions after the main race started with the mercury hovering around 24 degree centigrade at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Men’s defending champion Lelisa Desisa, who was part of the leading group after 7km, slipped to end up at the seventh place, while this year’s fastest athlete Atsedu Tsegay finished outside the top-20. Two-time women’s winner Aselefech Mergia could not finish her race.

Among the Indians, World 10K champion Monika Athare developed cramps in her legs and withdrew midway through the competition. Several well-known male long distance runners managed lowly places.

However, 20-year-old Kipyego coped with the conditions well and grabbed as much water as he could through the course to develop a good distance from the rest by the 11km mark.

“The race was good at the start. It was very humid (then). I tried to control it, but it was getting worse…At 18k, I realised that I was winning,” said Kipyego, who sat leaning to the barricade after breasting the tape.

The Kenyans dominated the race by grabbing the top five spots.

In a tight contest among women, Yimer, who won the bronze medal in 10,000m at the 2009 World championships and took the silver in the 2011 All-Africa Games, pushed ahead of a bunch of Ethiopians and Kenyans in the last 80m to land on the top of the podium.

“I am very happy, it was a good race. But it was very hot,” said Yimer, who got richer by $ 25,000.

The results: Elite men: 1. Edwin Kipyego (Ken) 1:00:55, 2. Leonard Langat (Ken) 1:01:07, 3. Silas Kipruto (Ken) 1:01:57.

Elite women: 1. Yumer Wude (Eth) 1:11:10, 2. Waganesh Amare (Eth) 1:11:12, 3. Helah Kiprop (Ken) 1:11:18.

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